Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Disclosure From the California Stem Cell Report

As many of you have noticed, the information about how this blog is produced states that it is written from a sailboat on the west coast of Mexico. For the record, we do make occasional trips back to the Old Country. Most recently, we have been in California since the beginning of December for a variety of reasons, including the birth of a grandson in Santa Barbara on the Winter Solstice (also the date of the biggest surf of year) and the remodel of our daughter's home in San Mateo. She is an active taskmaster. We have worked as a day laborer, electrician, child care provider, cook, personal shopper, project consultant and handholder under her direction. The same can be said for our son, the surfer, who was tending to birthing matters instead of breaking waves on the day of his child's arrival. We have had the opportunity to demonstrate plumbing, carpentry, gardening and solar power skills at his home, in addition to dealing with the usual conundrums of newborns and parents with their first child. These are not novel experiences, we might add, as any grandparent can attest. We salute them all.

What that means for this blog is that we have attended some CIRM meetings, toured the headquarters and discussed matters with both the agency staff and the regular observers, critics and supporters of CIRM. A visit late last summer also permitted such indulgences. On the other hand, that does mean we snatched precious time away from grandchildren, not to mention their parents, who are nearing the dreaded age of 40.

But on the issue of disclosure, we want to let our readers know that we have no investments in biotech firms or any other organizations that could benefit from stem cell research, except through mutual funds, which, of course, we have no control over. We do not hold any mutual funds that are industry specific to biotech.

Beyond that, we are not employed nor do we receive funds from any organization involved in biotech or stem cell activities. Nor is any member of our immediate family (meaning wife and children) involved in such a fashion. As far as we know, no distant relations are involved in biotech or have investments in that area.

We also have no financial connections with organizations critical or opposed to CIRM.

One would hope that reporters, observers or anybody trying to influence CIRM (which is not the same as reporters) would be willing to make the same sort of economic disclosure as above. By that we mean specific dollar amounts, from $1 (one dollar) and up – not those wimpy disclosures required under state law or by CIRM.

Beyond the economics, the California Stem Cell Report supports embryonic stem cell research. And we believe that CIRM is pursuing a worthwhile endeavor, albeit in a somewhat imperfect manner. We also believe that openness, transparency and disclosure are fundamental to good government. That means providing background agenda material well ahead of meeting dates, among other things. Otherwise, meetings can amount to nothing more than sneak-through business, plenty of which can be seen in Congress and the California Legislature.

We also believe in maximum disclosure; when it doubt lay it out. Specifically all significant persons within CIRM, including members of CIRM working groups, should publicly disclose their economic interests in more detail than required by state law.

If you have any further questions about our basic assumptions or potential conflicts, please send an email to or use the "comment" function at the end of this item.

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